List of kings of Dál Riata

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This is a List of the kings of Dál Riata, a kingdom of uncertain origins which was located in Scotland and Ireland. Most kings of Dál Riata, along with later rulers of Alba and of Scotland, traced their descent from Fergus Mór mac Eirc, and even in the 16th century, James VI of Scotland called himself the "happie monarch sprung of Ferguse race".

Background[edit]

It is not until the middle of the 6th century that Irish annals plausibly report the deaths of kings of Dál Riata, with the death of Comgall mac Domangairt, c. 538–545, and of his brother Gabrán, c. 558–560. The last attested kings of Dál Riata are Fergus mac Echdach, brother and successor to Áed Find, whose death is reported in the Annals of Ulster in 781. It is thought that the original king-lists from which the High Medieval accounts were derived ended with Fergus. After Fergus the history of Dál Riata is very uncertain, although there is a report of the death in 792 of Donncoirce ("Dorm Corci, king of Dál Riata"), but of whom nothing more is known.

Dál Riata was divided into a number of kingroups or dynasties, called cenéla, of which the Cenél nGabráin of Kintyre, who claimed descent from Gabrán mac Domangairt, and the Cenél Loairn, who claimed descent from Fergus Mór's son Loarn, dominated the kingship. Given the nature of early medieval genealogies, and the doubts expressed even by contemporary writers, such as the compiler of the Senchus fer n-Alban, it would be unwise to place too much reliance on such claims.

The annals are not entirely consistent in naming kings. For example, is there a real difference between a "king of Dál Riata" and a "lord of Dál Riata"? A possible source of confusion is that the neighbouring cruithne kingdom of Dál nAraide in Ulster was similar in name when Latinised as Dalaradia, while Dál Riata became Dalriada, so that it is possible that some of the more obscure rulers may have been misattributed to Dál Riata. It has been proposed, but with little support, that the Irish part of Dál Riata had a separate existence from the Scottish part after the middle of the 7th century, so that one king ruled in Ireland while another ruled in Scotland.

Kings of Dál Riata[edit]

Kings before the Battle of Mag Rath[edit]

Reign Ruler Name Family Remarks
Unknown Loarn Loarn mac Eirc Supposedly a son of Erc Eponymous founder of the Cenél Loairn; claimed ancestry probable spurious
Unknown Fergus Mór Fergus Mór mac Eirc
Mac Nisse Mór
Son of Erc Mac Nisse Mór is likely spurious; Annals of Tigernach report his death c. 501
Unknown Domangart Réti Domangart Réti
Domangart mac Ferguso
Domangart Mac Nissi
Son of Fergus Mór The Annals of Innisfallen report the death of Domangart of Cenn Tíre c. 507; the patronymic Mac Nissi is probably a textual error
Died c. 540 Comgall Comgall mac Domangairt Son of Domangart Said to have reigned 35 years; multiple obits in the Annals of Ulster; eponymous ancestor of the Cenél Comgaill
Died c. 560 Gabrán Gabrán mac Domangairt Son of Domangart His death may be associated with Bridei son of Maelchon; duplicate obits in the Annals of Ulster; eponymous ancestor of the Cenél nGabráin
Died c. 574 Conall Conall mac Comgaill Cenél Comgaill; son of Comgall Said to have given Iona to Saint Columba; the first king to have an entry in the Annals of Ulster other than an obit
Died c. 606 Áedán Áedán mac Gabráin Cenél nGabráin; son of Gabrán Known from Adomnán of Iona's Life of Saint Columba and from many entries in the Annals
Died c. 629 (after Connad Cerr) Eochaid Buide Eochaid Buide
Eochaid mac Áedáin
Cenél nGabráin; son of Áedán Known from Adomnán of Iona's Life of Saint Columba
Died c. 629 (before Eochaid Buide) Connad Cerr Connad mac Conaill Cenél Comgaill; son of Conall Co-ruler with Eochaid Buide whom he predeceased; defeated and killed in battle at Fid Eóin by Congal Cáech, king of the Ulaid
Died c. 642 Domnall Brecc Domnall Brecc
Domnall mac Echdach
Cenél nGabráin; son of Eochaid Buide Defeated and killed in battle at Strathcarron by Eugein map Beli, king of Alt Clut
Unknown Ferchar Ferchar mac Connaid Cenél Comgaill; son of Connad Cerr His obit in the Annals of Ulster for 694 appears misplaced; according to the Duan Albanach he was king after his father, presumably jointly with Domnall Brecc

Kings from Mag Rath to 741[edit]

Reign Ruler Name Family Remarks
Died c. 654 Dúnchad Dúnchad mac Conaing
Dúnchad mac Dúbain
Cenél nGabráin; probably son of Conaing son of Áedán Presumed descendants of Dúnchad appear frequently in the Annals
Died c. 660 Conall Crandomna Conall Crandomna
Conall Crannamna
Conall mac Echdach
Cenél nGabráin; son of Eochaid Buide
Died c. 660 ? Domangart Domangart mac Domnaill Cenél nGabráin; son of Domnall Brecc
Died c. 689 Máel Dúin Máel Dúin mac Conaill Cenél nGabráin; son of Conall
Died c. 696 Domnall Donn Domnall Donn
Domnall mac Conaill
Cenél nGabráin; son of Conall
Died c. 697 Ferchar Fota Ferchar the Tall
Ferchar mac Feredaig
Cenél Loairn ; a descendant in the seventh generation of Loarn Chief of the Cenél Loairn and, for a short time, king of Dál Riata
Unknown Eochaid Eochaid mac Domangairt Cenél nGabráin; son of Domangart Unattested by the Annals and omitted from later genealogies but included in the Duan Albanach
Deposed c. 698 Ainbcellach Ainbcellach mac Ferchair Cenél Loairn; son of Ferchar Fota Died 718 in battle against Selbach his brother
Died 700 Fiannamail Fiannamail ua Dúnchado
Fiannamail mac h-ua Dúnchado
Cenél nGabráin ?; perhaps a grandson or great-grandson of the earlier Dúnchad son of Conaing It is uncertain whether Fiannamail should be counted as a king of Dál Riata, or of Dál nAraidi; his possible sons Indrechtach and Conall died in battle in 741.
Died 707 Béc Béc ua Dúnchado Cenél nGabráin ?; probably a grandson or nephew of the earlier Dúnchad son of Conaing Apparently chief of the Cenél nGabráin
Died 721 Dúnchad Dúnchad Bec Cenél nGabráin; unknown but a relationship with Fiannamail, Béc and the earlier Dúnchad mac Conaing is possible chief of Kintyre, which is to say the Cenél nGabráin, from before 719 to 721
Abdicated 723 Selbach Selbach mac Ferchair Cenél Loairn; son of Ferchar Fota Abdicated in favour of his son Dúngal and entered religion, died 730
Deposed as king of Dál Riata 726 Dúngal Dúngal mac Selbaig Cenél Loairn; son of Selbach Probably remained chief of the Cenél Loairn until deposed in 733
726–733 Eochaid Eochaid Angbad
Eochaid mac Echdach
Cenel nGabráin; son of Eochaid A return to the Cenel nGabráin line
733–736 Muiredach Muiredach mac Ainbcellaig Cenél Loairn; son of Ainbcellach Chief of the Cenél Loairn; Muiredach may have been the king of Dál Riata as well
Unknown Alpín Alpín mac Echdach Unknown Appears in the Duan Albanach; possibly a spurious intrusion
Unknown Eógan Eógan mac Muiredaig Cenél Loairn; son of Muiredach Known from some Scots chronicles; not named as king by the Duan Albanach; may have been chief of the Cenél Loairn
Died 741 Indrechtach Indrechtach mac Fiannamail Cenel nGabráin ?; presumably son of the earlier Fiannamail Idenfication uncertain, killed at the battle of Forboros, perhaps by the Picts of Óengus mac Fergusa; this may, however, have been a king of Dál nAraidi, but in this case his patronymic should be mac Lethlobair

Kings from the 740s onwards[edit]

Reign Ruler Name Family Remarks
c. 736–750 or later Unknown kings Dál Riata was under the control of the Picts from around 736 until at least 750, and perhaps later; no kings are known from this period, but it is likely that the Picts ruled Dál Riata through subject kings
Before 768–778 Áed Find Áed mac Echdach Cenel nGabráin; presumably a son of Eochaid son of Eochaid Later genealogies make Áed Find the son of Domangart son of Domnall Brecc which is chronologically improbable, others have one Eochaid rather than the expected two
778–781 Fergus Fergus mac Echdach Cenel nGabráin; brother of Áed Find
Unknown Eochaid Eochaid mac Áeda Find Cenel nGabráin; son of Áed Find Not included in the Duan Albanach, or in the Annals; known from later genealogies; probably an error for Eochaid mac Echdach
Died 792 Donncoirce None known Unknown Obit in the Annals of Ulster; not included in the Duan Albanach or later genealogies
Unknown Caustantín Caustantín mac Fergusa Not certainly known, perhaps a descendant of the first Óengus mac Fergusa King of the Picts c. 792–820; included in the Duan Albanach but not generally supposed to have been a king in Dál Riata
c. 792–805 Unknown kings No kings are known from this period
c. 805–807 Conall Conall mac Taidg Unknown Death reported in battle in Kintyre, presumed to be the first of the Conalls included in the Duan Albanach; reign approximate
c. 807–811 Conall Conall mac Áedáin Unknown Killed Conall mac Taidg, "another Conall" reigned four years according to the Duan Albanach; reign approximate
c. 811–835 Domnall Domnall mac Caustantín Son of Caustantín mac Fergusa A king named Domnall reigned twenty-four years according to the Duan Albanach; reign approximate
Unknown Óengus Óengus mac Fergusa Brother of Caustantín King of the Picts c. 820–834; included in the Duan Albanach but not generally supposed to have been a king in Dál Riata
Unknown Eóganán Eóganán mac Óengusa Son of Óengus King of the Picts c. 837–839; included in the Duan Albanach but not generally supposed to have been a king in Dál Riata
c. 835–839 Áed Áed mac Boanta None known Killed in battle against Vikings alongside Eóganán mac Óengusa; a king Áed is named by the Duan Albanach
Unknown Alpín Alpín mac Echdach Cenel nGabráin; son of Eochaid son of Áed Find Not listed in the Duan Albanach or the Annals; known from later genealogies; no evidence that he was a king in Dál Riata and he is fathered on the spurious Eochaid mac Áeda Find
Unknown Cináed Cináed mac Ailpín Cenel nGabráin; son of Alpín King of the Picts c. 843–858; not generally supposed that he was a king in Dál Riata
Unknown Gofraid Gofraid mac Fergusa A king or prince of the Airgíalla An entry in the late and generally less reliable Annals of the Four Masters for 835 (probably 839 AD) states that Gofraid was invited to come to Dál Riata by Cináed mac Ailpín; a spurious addition, Gofraid being an alleged son of Fergus Mór and an ancestor of Somerled

Sources[edit]

The main sources for the kings of Dál Riata include:

Less reliable sources may include:

Interpretation of these sources remains problematic. Many entries which appear to refer to Dál Riata lack context, many persons named lack patronyms or other identifying bynames. There are many disagreements among sources. Some entries have been amended and expanded at a later time.

References[edit]

For primary sources, see also the articles mentioned above and External links below

  • Adomnán, Life of St Columba, tr. & ed. Richard Sharpe. Penguin, London, 1995. ISBN 0-14-044462-9
  • Anderson, Alan Orr, Early Sources of Scottish History A.D 500–1286, volume 1. Reprinted with corrections. Paul Watkins, Stamford, 1990. ISBN 1-871615-03-8
  • Bannerman, John, Studies in the History of Dalriada. Scottish Academic Press, Edinburgh, 1974. ISBN 0-7011-2040-1
  • Bannerman, John, "The Scottish Takeover of Pictland" in Dauvit Broun & Thomas Owen Clancy (eds.) Spes Scotorum: Hope of Scots. Saint Columba, Iona and Scotland. T & T Clark, Edinburgh, 1999. ISBN 0-567-08682-8
  • Broun, Dauvit, The Irish Identity of the Kingdom of the Scots in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries. Boydell, Woodbridge, 1999. ISBN 0-85115-375-5
  • Broun, Dauvit, "Pictish Kings 761–839: Integration with Dál Riata or Separate Development" in Sally M. Foster (ed.), The St Andrews Sarcophagus: A Pictish masterpiece and its international connections. Four Courts, Dublin, 1998. ISBN 1-85182-414-6
  • Sharpe, Richard, "The thriving of Dalriada" in Simon Taylor (ed.), Kings, clerics and chronicles in Scotland 500–1297. Fourt Courts, Dublin, 2000. ISBN 1-85182-516-9

External links[edit]

See also[edit]